TORONTO — Baseball fans swept up by Blue Jays fever helped Rogers Communications knock one out of the park in the third quarter.
The road to the playoffs gave the telecommunications company an extra boost that was helped even more by revenue growth in its wireless division.
Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) reported Thursday that profits grew nearly 40 per cent to $464 million from $332 million in the three months ended Sept. 30.
That was enough to beat analyst expectations with adjusted earnings of 92 cents per share compared with projections of 82 cents, according Rogers, one of the country's largest wireless carriers as well as owner of the Toronto Blue Jays and the venue where they play, the Rogers Centre.
Chief executive Guy Laurence credited growth in its wireless division to the company's ability to stabilize the number of subscribers who strayed to its competitors — known within the industry as churn.
"Postpaid churn was flat year-over-year for the first time in four quarters, despite a highly competitive market and the double cohort," Laurence said on a conference call with analysts.
During the period, Rogers added 77,000 postpaid wireless subscribers, or the valuable customers who typically sign up for long-term contracts.
Like its competitors, Rogers has been dealing with the fallout of the so-called double cohort, which came after the CRTC made rule changes that eliminated three-year wireless contracts. The move was expected to intensify competition as competitors vied for each others subscribers, though the results have varied across the industry.
At Rogers, the wireless business that includes Rogers, Fido and Chatr services accounted for the biggest chunk of revenue at $1.97 billion, helped by customers adding more expensive data plans to their smartphones.
But the division also faced higher costs from subsidizing more expensive phones to handle those heavier data loads. Adjusted operating profits slipped one per cent to $879 million.
Revenue in its media operations, which include the Jays and its slate of TV channels, grew eight per cent to $473 million, as the company benefited from higher advertising and subscriber revenues for its Sportsnet cable channels and better sales for Toronto Blue Jays merchandise.
Rogers has been riding the wave of Jays popularity, which picked up in late July when the team secured a number of superstar trades which got them pitcher David Price and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. From there, they had a 43-18 record until the end of the season.
"It's actually been amazing to see how the city and the country have come together to cheer on Canada's ball team," Laurence said.
The Blue Jays are trailing 3-2 in the best of seven series and will need to beat the Royals in Kansas City, Mo., in the final two games in order to advance to the World Series.
Rogers' cable revenues grew one per cent to $871 million.
The company's total cable TV base slid once again, falling another 31,000 subscribers, while its Internet customers grew by 24,000 and landline customers fell by 14,000.
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